Our wagon is traveling along through the prairie, the shadows of clouds pass us by and even the tiny beetles - moving on their tiny legs - put us to shame. When the bread runs out ma sends me out with the can to beg. The wagon trail is a slow racket, even for me, the one pa says looks mighty cute in this apron and bonnet. He teases me and says if I'm not careful my freckles will rival the stars in number.
My feet get impatient as I watch for the dust that might mean another wagon coming over the hill. They start to dance to the tune in my head. But mostly the only dust I'm seeing is what I'm raising with my tapping toes. Ma always adds a few coins to the can and gives me the last loaf of bread to hold, as if the idea of somebody else already giving something might inspire greater generosity.
I try to concentrate on my song again to distract myself from the ache in my sitting-parts. All this horizon-gazing makes my eyes bleary, so I start to notice shapes in the clouds to make time pass faster. The sun's heat is kicking in, I'm thankful I don't have to wear shoes and stockings and roast my feet in them, but the ground is rather hot and then there's that tiny part that wishes we had the money so I could even have my own shoes and stockings. They would be patent leather and the stockings would be real silk. I would wear them on Sundays and refuse to get down from the wagon to walk in the muck no matter what anybody said.
For lunch, there are usually some herbs to be found somewhere nearby. Hurrying to gather my meager meal, I try not to think how easy it would be to eat that lone, crusty loaf. Telling myself it would be stale and would probably have bugs in it helps me to avoid the temptation. Besides if I ate the bread and no wagons came along with more, my little brother would go hungry.
My brother probably spent his day chopping wood, stocking the wood pile in their campsite. He's a good boy, that little brother, even though he tries hard to annoy me when he can.
But mostly we get along, we have to, that's what you do on the prairie.
OK, so that is really nothing like Summer on the prairie in our day. We have our dramas but they don't usually include bonnets or begging for bread. The truth is our Summer is pretty easy and these may be some of my favorite pictures I've ever taken of my kids. The heat is getting up there and we are trying to balance the comfort of going barefoot and the discomfort of hot sidewalks. The kids play outside and I do try to feed them.
She wears an apron.
He carries a pretend ax.
That's what you get when you cross a prairie hen and a logger.
Prairie Ma in Nebraska